A Meat Lover’s Guide to the Different Cuts of Steak

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It’s easy to assume that all steak is the same. It all comes from a cow, so how different could each one taste? The answer is a lot. Different parts of the cow serve different purposes and contain varying amounts of fat. The best cuts of steak have a perfect balance of marbled fat to give steak that juicy flavor and tenderness.

So what types of steak are there? We’ll go over the four most popular steak cuts and how to order steak to get the most out of the experience.

Filet Mignon, the “Delicate Fillet”

This smaller steak is one of the most expensive cuts you can find. A filet mignon is a boneless cut from the tip of the tenderloin (under the ribs).

This tender steak has a very low fat content, making it less juicy than other cuts and more at risk of overcooking. It has a mild flavor perfect for sauce or seasonings. With its high price and delicate flavor, the filet mignon should definitely be saved as a “special occasion” steak.

How to order: To preserve the tenderness of the meat, the filet mignon is best ordered from rare (cool, red center) to medium-rare (warm, red center).

Ribeye, or “Cowboy Steak”

This marbled cut is one of the most popular choices for the discerning carnivore. Cut from the ribs, it has plenty of fat throughout to give it a bold, juicy flavor. It can come boneless or bone-in and is firmer than a filet mignon but more tender than a New York Strip.

If you aren’t one for bloody steaks, this is the steak for you. The fat content in a ribeye allows for cooking longer without getting that leathery chew.

How to order: You can order this one cooked to medium (warm, pink center).

A New York Strip by Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

The New York Strip goes by many names. If you see shell steak, Kansas City steak (or strip), or sirloin steak on the menu, it’s the same thing as a New York Strip. This boneless steak may not be the most prized cut but is versatile and hard to mess up.

The New York strip comes from the short loin, which is just behind the ribs and has a good balance of fat to muscle, giving plenty of juicy beef flavor. It does well on the grill making for the perfect outdoor dining experience.

How to order: Anywhere from rare (cool, red center) to medium well (warm pink center surrounded by brown) will give you delicious steak. Just remember that the longer it cooks, the less juice it will have.

T-Bone and Porterhouse Steak: Two Cuts of Steak in One

Talk about having your steak and eating it too. On one side of the iconic T-shaped bone, you have a filet mignon. On the other is the New York strip. The only difference between a T-bone and a Porterhouse steak is the Porterhouse has a larger cut of the filet.

This expensive steak can be more difficult to cook due to the large bone in the middle and the two types of meats needing different cook times.

How to order: As either steak is at risk for being overcooked, rare (cool, red center) to medium (warm, pink center) is the best way to enjoy it.

Let Them Eat Steak

If you’re not planning your next steak dinner by now, what are you waiting for? Now that you know the most popular cuts of steak you can make an informed choice and give recommendations like a cooking master.

For more tips on cooking, check out our Recipes to Learn blog posts.